Examining UCLA’s QB Competition: What is Neuheisel's Plan?

Bumped. Interesting thoughts from BruinWriter. - BNEds.

I’ve looked at every position within UCLA’s depth chart and despite their 4-8 record last year, the team is stacked with talent. The only real issue I see has to do with the most important position on the team. What’s that position called again? Oh yeah, the Quarterback position. No matter how fast the racecar drives, without a competent driver it can’t win, as is the case with UCLA football in 2011.

This year, UCLA has three options at Quarterback: Kevin Prince, Richard Brehaut, and Brett Hundley. Lets break these guys down to see who has the best chance at taking the reigns this fall.

Kevin Prince is the most experienced of the three, but given his overall performance, I don’t know if that’s a positive or a negative. He did win the Texas game on the road, had an impressive outing against Houston, beat Tennessee on the road, and lead the Bruin’s to a bowl victory over Temple.  Prince has above average size and speed. He can run a legitimate 4.5 and is a hair over 6’2", 230 lbs. He shows great knowledge of the playbook (which Neuheisal and Chow both salivated over last year) and understands the offense. He also displays a good work ethic and possesses strong leadership skills.

Unfortunately, Prince’s flaws negate most of his attributes. The four wins I talked about earlier, well… lets just say the racecar may have been on autopilot for those games. Prince managed the games well, but the defense and the run game did all the dirty work. Prince also seems to make mistakes in the game that he doesn’t make in practice. In other words, he seems to be more of a "Practicer" than a "Gamer."

Did I miss anything? Oh yeah, hoping he’s not going to get injured is like hoping Neuheisel will commit every top high school recruit in the nation by serenading them  with his guitar- not going to happen. Kevin has been battling injuries since high school. UCLA nabbed this 3 star recruit out of the notorious Crespi High, and they didn’t have much competition in the recruiting process because he missed nearly his whole senior season due to injury. In his second college start he broke his jaw and the injuries kept coming after that. In 2009 he missed the San Diego State game and couldn’t make it through the Washington or USC games. In 2010 he missed all of fall practice due to a shoulder injury that usually only effects baseball pitchers. As the 2010 season progressed, I couldn’t keep track of what injury was hampering him because he was getting hurt so often. He was eventually lost to a knee injury, which kept him out of the final 7 games in 2010.

Richard Brehaut hails out of Los Osos Calif, and was as highly touted a recruit as Brett Hundley coming out of high school. Brehaut has an NFL arm, can be accurate at times, throws a better ball then Prince, broke Troy Aikman’s completion record at a loss to Arizona State, can do a pretty good Brett Farve imitation when a play breaks down, and is known to be more of a "Gamer" then a "Practicer."

Brehaut has average size (he’s listed at 6’2" 225lbs, but he looks closer to 6’1" 220lbs) with average speed and quickness. He’s savvy when he runs the ball, but he’s not going to out run any LB’s or DB’s. His major issue is that he doesn’t seem to grasp the playbook very well, and when you’re playing for a control freak like Neuheisel, that could be a worse flaw then getting hurt in every game. Brehaut has been criticized for consistently making the same mistakes. The coaches’ blame this on lack of preparation, and Neuheisel constantly says he’s not sure how bad Richard wants this position, and is concerned that he doesn’t really know how much off field preparation is required of a Quarterback. And it didn’t help Richard’s cause when he decided to join the baseball team this spring. Although Neuheisel supported Richard’s decision to play baseball, he recently stated that he wasn’t exactly sure what Richard was doing playing baseball, when he isn’t getting any playing time.

Brett Hundley has the potential to be really, really, and I mean this when I say it, "really good." He’s already known on campus as "The Savior," a calling in which he’s not particularly fond of. Hundley has it all: He’s big (listed as ‘6’ 4 225, and my guess is he’ll be bigger when he stops growing), fast (he runs like a running back), has a cannon for an arm, is accurate, and unlike most Quarterbacks with his attributes, he’s really bright. Hundley is Pre-Med at UCLA and speaks to the media like he’s a young politician.

The sky’s the limit for this kid, but it would behoove of him to red-shirt this year. He needs to get a better grasp on the playbook and the speed of the college game. If they decided to go with Hundley, he would run the ball too often on passing plays, which may cause negative long term mental and physical effects. It would also be another learning year for UCLA, and I don’t think Neuhisal can blame another year of losses on growing pains.

So the big question is, "Who will Neuheisel trust to save his job?"

Observing recent interviews with Neuheisel, you’d think Kevin Prince has a clear advantage to secure the job this fall, but this is far from the truth.

Say what you will about Rick Neuheisel, but he’s as smart as college coaches get. He had the highest GPA of any player on the UCLA team as a player, attained a law degree from USC while being a graduate assistant coach, and won a rose bowl as a player, an offensive coordinator, and a head coach.

So why would someone that posses this type of intelligence want to waste reps on a QB that he knows will get hurt during the 2011 season?

Ricky is taking a page out of the Phil Jackson playbook by trying to motivate his best QB option, "Richard Brehaut." Richard’s biggest flaw is his lack of preparation. Neuheisel is trying to fix this by telling the media there is an open Quarterback competition, and Prince has the edge because Brehaut keeps making the same mental mistakes. This is the best method to motivate Richard, and the only harmful effects lie on Bruin fans (reading the message boards, most of them think the world will end if Prince starts the 2011 season).

If Neuheisel decides his ego can’t handle giving the starting job to a QB he perceives did not put the necessary time in, look for Prince to start the first four games, be about 70% healthy by the third or fourth game, get injured around mid-season, and have Brehaut come in rusty because he’s been missing reps and benched since the beginning of the season. If Neuheisel wants to go down this no exit strategy road, again… he better start looking for a new job.

This is a FanPost and does not necessarily reflect the views of BruinsNation's (BN) editors. It does reflect the views of this particular fan though, which is as important as the views of BN's editors.